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Menotti: Amelia al ballo [Amelia Goes to the Ball--Orig 1954 Prod] Import

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Audio CD, Import, December 12, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

As we continue to sift through the litany of 20th-century composers and who will endure, the assessment of a particular creator's significance has become inevitably entangled with larger, meta-issues about tradition vs. originality, popularity vs. elitism, and so forth. The case of Gian Carlo Menotti is practically a textbook example. Alternately championed and castigated for hewing to an "accessible," audience-friendly style--essentially a mix of Italian opera's lyricism with Hollywoodish gestures that hasn't always dated well--Menotti approaches his 10th decade having weathered many a storm of musical politics (he even ushered in the new millennium by personally directing a revival of what may be his masterpiece, The Consul, at Washington Opera).

Yet to what extent his music will show any lasting resonance remains an open question, and perhaps the attempted answer is still too clouded by shadows of those very politics. At any rate, a less jaded view might be had with this captivating account of the composer's first success--written at the age of 25 and given a Metropolitan Opera debut in 1938 (in its English version, Amelia Goes to the Ball, making a bizarre double bill with Elektra). This one-act romp spoofing the classic love triangle displays a young composer not only of promise but on top of the world with all the exuberance of his freshly harnessed creativity. Already, Menotti shows himself an economical, effective one-man team as composer and librettist, and much of the music's charm springs from Menotti's theatrical instincts: he can instantly deflate a threatening Hunding-wannabe of a husband with a pompous bass drone and roll of timpani. And Menotti's signature melodic fertility emerges in full blush, even in parodic arias about fateful love.

This recording comes from the opera's La Scala premiere in 1954 (belated because of Menotti's opposition to Mussolini) and is a treasure in filling a gaping hole in the catalog. Nino Sanzogno gets the fleet invention of Menotti's buffa antics (the overture is full of bustle), and Margherita Carioso manages to be stylish and funny at the same time as the absurdly self-involved heroine, playing wonderfully off Rolando Panerai's outraged husband. The lover, Giacinto Prandelli, is registered too recessively in his great moment, but for the most part the sound has been nicely remastered. Rounding out the disc is about 10 minutes' worth of colorfully scored interludes from Menotti's "madrigal fable" ballet The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore. --Thomas May

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Orchestral Prld - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Nino Sanzogno
  2. Stringi! Allaccia, Allacci! - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Elena Mazzoni/Maria Amadini
  3. La Notte, La Notte E Troppo Breve... - Margherita Carosio/Maria Amadini
  4. Sono Pronta. Dammi Fiori... - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  5. Non Si Va! Non Si Va! - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  6. Amelia, Amelia! - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  7. Amelia Cara, Gioia Adorata... - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  8. Osi Ancora Negar? - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  9. No, No, No! Al Ballo Non Andremo... - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  10. Ebbene, Si - Margherita Carosio/Silvana Zanolli/Maria Amadini
  11. Il Mio Amante E Quel Signore Che Vive... - Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio
  12. Che Disdetta! - Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio
  13. Vola Intanto L'Ora Insonne - Margherita Carosio
  14. Amelia, Amelia! - Margherita Carosio/Maria Amadini
  15. ...Contro Me Non Porta Offesa - Margherita Carosio/Giacinto Prandelli
  16. Non L'ho Pescato In Tempo - Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio
  17. Ah Cane, Impera... - Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio/Giacinto Prandelli
  18. Fu Di Notte; Come In Sogno - Giacinto Prandelli/Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio
  19. Un' Ora Ho Atteso... - Margherita CarosioRolando Panerai
  20. Chi Puo Saper... - Giacinto Prandelli/Rolando Panerai/Margherita Carosio
  21. Orchestral Interlude/Che C'e? Che C'e? - Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala Di Milano/Vittore Veneziani
  22. Gia Capito... - Enrico Campi/Margherita Carosio/Rolando Panerai/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala Di Milano/Vittore Venezia
  23. ...Seduta Alla Specchiera... - Margherita Carosio/Giacinto Prandelli/Coro Del Teatro Alla Scala Di Milano/Vittore Veneziani
  24. Perche Affligerso Tanto? - Enrico Campi/Margherita Carosio
  25. Gioite, Gioite, Amelia Al Ballo Andra... - Margherita Carosio/Rolando Panerai/Giacinto Prandelli/Maria Amadini/Enrico Campi/Silvana Zanolli...
  26. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude One - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers
  27. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude Two - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers
  28. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude Three - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers
  29. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude Four - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers
  30. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude Five - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers
  31. The Unicorn, The Gorgon & The Manticore (Instr Interludes): Interlude Six - Orch Del Teatro All Scala Di Milano/Thomas Schippers

Product Details

  • Performer: Margherita Carosio, Rolando Panerai
  • Conductor: Nino Sanzogno
  • Composer: Gian Carlo Menotti
  • Audio CD (December 12, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Testament UK
  • ASIN: B00004UGB2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,774 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 2001
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Somehow, I bumped into this recording shortly after it originally issued, around 1956, or so. Since then, I have played it from time to time and am amazed that it continues to be such a delight to hear. It is brief, to the point, and most of all, quite tuneful. I suspect that we do not see it more in the theatre because it is too short for an evening's entertainment if performed alone, and, yet, what do you use it with to form a double bill? Perhaps a ballet. In any event, this is an excellent recording of a rare work that deserves more attention. While the original release was only monophonic, the CD version enhances the quality of what was then quite acceptable for high fidelity recording.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. E. Cantrell VINE VOICE on November 12, 2005
Source: Studio recording made in March 1954 in Milan in conjunction with the first production of the opera at La Scala.

Sound: Good mono, competently re-mastered in 2000.

Documentation: Italian-English libretto. Summary of the plot. Brief essay on the life and works of Gian Carlo Menotti (b. 1911) to the year 2000. Track list showing timings.

Format: Sung in Italian. One disk, 25 tracks for the opera and six tracks for additional material.

Cast: Amelia - Margherita Carosio; Amelia's Husband - Rolando Panerai; Amelia's Lover - Giacinto Prandelli; Amelia's Chief of Police - Enrico Campi; Amelia's Friend - Maria Amadini; Amelia's First Maid - Silvana Zanolli; Amelia's Second Maid - Elena Mazzoni. Conductor - Nino Sanzogno. Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan.

"Amelia al ballo" was first performed (as "Amelia Goes to the Ball") in Philadelphia in April 1937. By March 1938, it had made it all the way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where it successfully shared a double bill with "Elektra." [!] The legend of the opera, for what it is worth, is that it was inspired by Menotti's sojourns with Samuel Barber in pre-war Vienna, where they lodged with an elderly Czech countess who regaled them with tales of the wonderful balls she had attended in the gilded days of old Emperor Franz Josef.

This is a piece of fluff, not--as Seinfeld would say--that there's anything wrong with that, for so are "Die Fledermaus," "Don Pasquale" and even "The Barber of Seville." It is, in fact, a very superior bit of fluff, one written by a young man who was clearly a disciple of Puccini.
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